For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus . . .
2 Timothy 2:5
The Roman Catholic contention is that Saint Peter was the first Pope and the author of papal succession. Romanism also considers the pope to be the “head of the church” in spite of (and in direct contradiction to) that title already belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:23).
Romish tradition teaches that not only did the Apostle Peter visit Rome, but that he pastored a church in Rome, died in Rome, is buried in Rome, and St. Peter’s Basilica is standing where Peter is supposed to have been martyred and buried. The Bible never makes mention of any of these things and the word “pope” isn’t even found in the Bible.
Below I’ve posted seventeen evidences (not “traditions”) for your consideration. Some of these facts were adapted from this website but the majority of this following information came from John MacArthur’s profound sermon entitled Unmasking the Pope and the Catholic System.
So, was Peter the first pope or not? Let us examine this subject with the following points.
01- The Bible never claioms that Peter was a pope, nor does it say that he was the “head of the church.” The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) takes biblical texts out of their context to support this pretext. One would think that if Peter were a pope (especially the first) that the Scriptures would certainly recognize and reflect this fact.
02- The word “pope” is not even found in Scripture. (It also never mentions the words “monk” or “rosary” either.)
03- There’s no archeological or historical evidence that Peter was ever in Rome.
04- The Bible gives a reason why there’s no archeological or historical evidence that peter was ever in Rome. In Romans 15:20, the Apostle Paul says that he aspired “to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation.” Had Peter been in Rome, then Paul would not have evangelized there since Paul said he didn’t want to build on another man’s foundation.
05- Paul greets a myriad of people in Romans chapter 16, yet makes absolutely no mention of Saint Peter. If Peter was the pope or “head of the church” in Rome, this would be a grievous oversight/omission on Paul’s part.
06- Paul greets ten people in Rome throughout his letter known as 2 Timothy; none of them are Peter.
07- When mentioning the pillars of the Church (not the heads as Christ is the only head of the Church), the Apostle Paul mentions Peter before John, but after James (Galatians 2:9). Is this any way for a pope to be recognized?
08- Peter was never called to preach to the Gentiles (which would have been those in Rome). Peter was entrusted with the Gospel to the circumcised, the Jews. (Galatians 2:7-8).
09- There’s no mention in Scripture of Peter being the head of the Church in Rome. He wasn’t even the head of the Church in Jerusalem; James was. (Galatians 2 & Acts 15).
10- Peter never considered himself the head of the Church (i.e. the pope). In the introduction of his letter (1 Peter 1:1), he simply calls himself “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” Notice he did not call himself the apostle, pope, or even “head of the church.” And he didn’t even refer to himself with the name “holy father” (a title ascribed to popes).
11- Peter further clarified his view of himself when he referred to himself as a “fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 5:1). He equated himself on the same level as the others he was writing his letter to.
12- Who was calling the shots? Scripture reveals that it was not Peter, the supposed “head of the Church.” He was being told what to do by the elders of the Church (Acts 8:14). Shouldn’t the “head of the Church” be the one giving instruction and direction? See additional examples of the leaders and elders of the church giving directions, not Peter, in Acts 11:22, Acts 15:22-27, Acts 21:18, and Acts 21:23-24.
13- The Apostle Paul opposed Peter to his face (Galatians 2:11) because Peter “stood condemned.” Hardly the thing for someone to do to a pope, the supposed Roman Catholic “head of the Church.”
14- Jesus called Peter “Satan,” and said that he was a stumbling block to Jesus (Matthew 16:21-23). Is this any way to talk to a pope?
15- Peter acted cowardly and denied the Lord Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75). Is this any way for a pope to act?
16- The history of the early Church as accounted in the book of Acts makes absolutely no mention of Peter after chapter 15. For someone who is supposed to be the “head of the church” and the first pope, you’d think there’d be more mention of him in this inspired book of early Church history.
17- And finally, Peter was a married man (Matthew 8:14, Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:38-39 & 1 Corinthians 9:5), something a pope could not be.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.